Soap Operas in early 1900’s were known for their exciting and dramatic ending at the end of an episode. This was done primarily to capture the imagination of audience and make them anxious about the next installment. This whole process came to be termed as a cliffhanger ending where the movie or serial ends on an abrupt note and raises tension and builds viewer curiosity. Cliffhanger ending was a popular phenomenon in movies in early 1900s and the trend faded away as the time passed by. But in late 70’s and early 80’s there were various TV series that exploited this technique and achieved tremendous success. With soaring popularity, dramatic endings became a tried and tested formula for success and modern cinema too started realizing the potential of a cliffhanger ending.
Cliffhanger endings and modern cinema –
More often than not a film is supposed to have a beginning, middle part and ending. But of lately, films have adopted the once famous cliffhanger technique and this helps them give a tantalizing and dramatic end to the story. With a sequel in the offering, the moviemakers get the liberty to add a twist in the end and make the movie ambiguous so as to retain viewer curiosity for the sequel part.
Cliffhangers have paved way for sequels – Sequels have become one of the most popular films making technique in today’s time. A fair percentage of movies in modern era are conceived along with its sequel and the plot is designed as such to give the movie a perfectly dramatic ending.
On one hand as the abrupt ending to the plot helps build viewer curiosity for the next part, it also gives filmmakers an opportunity to be more vocal about the subject and the story they are willing to tell.
Sequels help create more cinematic space for filmmakers and they get freedom to tell a story without comprising on fine detailing like characters as well as the story.
No more stress to make happy endings – Cinema for major part of its existence followed the tried and tested formula of happy ending. But with reintroduction of Cliffhanger endings, filmmakers got a sense of relief and pressure to end a movie a on a happy note was lessened to an extent.
Abrupt endings provide the directors and scriptwriters a chance to experiment with the plot as well as with characters. This helps the filmmaker give different dimensions to the story to stimulate viewer’s curiosity without limiting the scope of cinema to accommodate a happy ending.
Cliffhanger film techniques
Men are supposed to be the most curious of all beings and an abrupt end to a movie leaves them demanding for a sequel. This technique of cliffhanger ending is called Zeigarnik effect. This technique is used to leave the viewer with an incomplete scene and this helps build viewer curiosity while maintaining the suspense within the plot.
Cliffhanger endings of late have gained tremendous popularity and films like Harry Potter and Twilight have used the technique to create a sequel for their film franchise. Abrupt and dramatic endings have come to be known as a potent tool for storytelling and it surely has a bright future.